November 8 will be just another busy Tuesday in the USA. Except that this will be the day Americans are going to vote for their future president. At least those Americans who have decided to take part in the elections and haven’t voted in advance. Though they are not casting their votes directly for one of the candidates for the sake of simplicity we can assume they do. And they do, as they are choosing between those faces that have become ubiquitous thanks to TV and Internet. One of those faces is sure to be the face of the whole country for the next four or eight years.
Russia pays close attention to the US presidential elections for many reasons. To begin with, it’s a great way to distract people here from internal agenda and our own flaws. I should probably stop it here as this is the major reason, but there are others. The USA is the superpower sans any doubt. No matter how large their national debt is or how much people in some corners of the world hate it, America is leading the world on so many levels that even haters inadvertently admit.
For Russia, it is vitally important to keep the balance with the USA in such an unstable world. Both countries have potential to destroy the planet if their leaders choose so or if someone’s hand slips onto the wrong button. But all Russian propaganda frenzy aside, we are two large countries with huge ambitions and we are bound to have to find some common ground or some sort of status quo. Even if this status quo is prone to interpretations on both sides. The scale of interpretations might well depend on who sits in the White House, among other factors. Therefore, our interest to the election’s outcome is rather practical, albeit one of an observer.
According to Russian mainstream media Donald Trump is probably the better choice for US-Russian relations. Republican administrations being usually more friendly with Russian ones is the historical reason. Trump voicing his friendliness towards Putin is the rhetorical reason. Clinton having a strong position on Crimea annexation is the political reason. Trump being a dark and obviously a temperamental horse that could potentially be led in the right direction is the practical reason. When I speak about reasons and potential leading I am not in the least implying that foreign leaders should be led by their colleagues, or that Russia has indeed tried to interfere in the election process. After all, both countries are sure to have interfered into each other’s policies and will continue to do so.
Despite the fact that some changes in Putin’s presidential administration are suspected to be the backfire of too much involvement with Trump and the necessity to get ready for a feminine touch in negotiations, Russian media continue to paint Hillary black and to kind of still bet on Trump. The general public always likes bright figures and prefers them to gray ones no matter how sophisticated, well-versed or experienced the latter are. It is the same reason why hundreds of thousands continue voting for Vladimir Zhirinovsky who is nothing but a political clown here. They’d actually be a sweet couple with Trump if fate brought both into power.
But whatever politicians do it is common folk that have to deal with consequences. And, all facts and allegations to the contrary aside, it is the common folk that are entitled to choose their presidents on both sides of the Atlantic.
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in the USA. So I asked them about their views and expectations regarding these elections. Not all agreed to participate in this little survey, so I really appreciate the fact that some did send me their answers. Not surprisingly most of the respondents (though not all) are going to vote for Hillary Clinton – I mostly made friends with people with college degrees from cities. None supports Trump as president, though some people expressed either their agreement with some of his proposals and disagreement with some of Clinton’s.
I asked people to say if they would take part in the elections and had decided whom to support; why they support their candidate and whether they disagree with anything on their program; whether they agree with anything in the program of opposing candidate; if they think the outcome of the elections is crucial for America, and, finally, I asked them about the future of US-Russian relations. Here are the answers I’ve received.
David, 42, North Carolina
I almost always vote Democratic, and will continue to do so. I have already voted for Hillary Clinton and all the Democrats running for state and local elections with one exception – I voted to re-elect the NC Commissioner of Agriculture, who is a Republican and has done a good job, according to my Dad.
Donald Trump is a sleazy, slimy, Egomaniac mafioso with no experience in a public office. I cannot believe he has made it this far in the nomination process, but I despised all the other republican candidates even more. I’m just thankful the nomination did not go to a Jesus-freak like Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush – they were even scarier.
If Donald Trump were to win the election, it would be a frightening thing for the US and the entire world. We are all still safe with Hillary (and Bill), but she still annoys the shit out of me every time she opens her mouth with her Chicago accent.
The NC state election is equally contentious, and arguably more important to the people of Asheville than the national election. Currently, the NC government is controlled by a right-wing fuck head and the Republican religious bigots running the state legislature. They have been a national embarrassment the past year.
My opinion of the Russian people has always been strong. All the Russians I have known over the years make me want to come visit your huge country some day! In fact, I feel Americans are closer culturally to Russians than we are to either Canadians, Brits, or Aussies, due to our shared love of revolution, guns, war, and gangster-style violence. No matter who wins the elections, my opinion of the Russian people will not change.
Ezell, 45, Louisiana
Yes, I am going to take part in the US presidential elections in 2016. I am going to vote for the usual party I support because she, Hillary Clinton, is the most qualified candidate in my assessment. I do not support any single party. In fact I believe we need several legitimate and viable parties.
As I watched the three national debates I saw Hillary Clinton wanting to discuss issues related to our country’s interests. Then I saw Donald Trump making generalizations and blanket statements without supporting them. I also saw him constantly interrupting Clinton and the moderators and appearing as a bully, a tyrant, a shyster and an agitator. He appeared uninformed and out of touch. His characteristics are not indicative of what I expect to see in a leader. Hillary Clinton’s credentials are solid, despite her continual need to shroud her work in secrecy.
I agree with Trump’s position to reform the tax codes that allow him and other billionaire business owners to avoid paying their fair share of taxes like us common, everyday folk.
What I disagree with in Clinton’s program is the idea of disclosing too much national security information to the public and the world regarding ISIS and the attempt to destroy their terrorist efforts.
The outcome of the elections is going to be very crucial. I need a president seasoned in diplomatic efforts who is ready to be a commander-in-chief on day one, not Mr. Trump. He appears to be an entertainer looking for his next 15 minutes of fame. I am shocked that a person who body slammed a wrestling entertainment mogul for ratings is even considered a viable candidate for president. His demeaning remarks about several minority groups is disturbing. Also allegations of inappropriate advances and comments toward women is offensive and repulsive.
This election reminds me of a gubernatorial election we had in Louisiana in 1992. The two candidates were a crooked politician and a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I voted for the crook. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton is a crook. Based on all of the information I have examined, I have decided I’d vote for a “crook” before I’d vote for a hate monger like Trump. Over 30 years of investigations into Hillary Clinton and nothing has ever been proven illegal. Either she’s the smartest crook to have ever entered American politics or they are trying to taint her reputation.
I believe we will continue in the same path under a Clinton presidency. Under a Trump presidency we might end up in World War III. I do not trust him with our country’s nuclear codes. His Twitter rants might be an indication of his temperance in dealing with foreign powers.
Michael, 63, California
I am going to take part in the US presidential elections in 2016 and have already decided on whom to vote for. I will support the usual party, because they have the better candidate.
I support Clinton’s healthcare policy, her position on entitlements, her tax policy, etc. In addition, I cannot support a racist, a bigot, an islamophobe, nor a man who brags about sexual assault. There is nothing good in Trump’s program.
At the same time there are many things I disagree with in Clinton’s program. I don’t think she is progressive enough on many issues that are important to me, but she is much closer to my views than Trump.
The outcome of the elections is crucial. Trump would take this country in many wrong directions. Additionally, he is proud of his lack of intellectual rigor and his gut reactions. I fear he could push us into some terrible foreign policy directions.
Russia seems to be increasingly willing to support dangerous regimes and to have an increasingly interventionist foreign policy. This seems very dangerous to me and puts Russia and the US into many adversarial positions.
Trent, 52, Kentucky
Yes, I will vote in the 2016 Elections and I have decided who I will vote for – the candidate is from the party that I normally vote for. I generally agree with the positions from the party platform and that this candidate advocates. I think my candidate is a capable person that will do their best to lead this country.
With regard to the positions my candidate is taking. I support the raising of minimum wage, it is very low and has not been raised since 2009. Even the 2009 rate was very low and I think it is difficult for many to afford the necessities of life. One other economic item of interest to me is that she would like to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for some additional programs for investment, such as debt free university, road improvements/repairs.
Immigration Reform. There are a lot of children and adults who have been here since their childhood, brought here by their parents who have no legal status in this country. They called people in this situation “the Dreamers”. Many people want them deported to their home country but I would rather they stay and be given a path to citizenship. I think there needs to be a guest worker system implement. Also, I would like the US to take in more properly vetted Syrian Refuges as the rest of Europe and the middle east is doing to help in the humanitarian crisis. My candidate agrees with this position as well.
My candidate agrees with marriage equality and the expansion of the civil rights act to include sexual orientation. Also, my candidate wants to heal the racial divide by criminal justice reform. Often people of different races are charged and sentenced differently depending on their race. More police training is needed in dealing with people people with different races.
Health Care. My candidate will keep and improve “Obama Care” healthcare system to bring heath care to more people and hopefully making it more affordable rather than dismantling it.
The Supreme Court has fallen victim to our gridlock. With the vacancy left by one of the justices dying in February, Obama nominated a judge to be considered by the congress. Congress has not given this person a hearing in hopes that their party will win the presidency and they can nominate someone that agreed with their politics. This is a failure of their duties in my opinion.
The candidate of the opposing party is threatening not to uphold treaties and is advocating some countries acquire nuclear weapon. I believe this to be dangerous and destabilizing. The candidate that I support is the former secretary of state and I have more confidence in her to use diplomacy.
I agree that the use of a private email server to conduct some state department business was unwise. I do not agree that it is criminal. With regard to anything that I disagree with my candidate, I am nervous about her advocating a “No Fly Zone” in Syria. It could lead to further conflict with Russia.
I think this is a really important election because the next president will be selecting one to perhaps 3 supreme court justices. I want the future supreme court to take a moderate direction rather than a hard right turn. I also believe that the candidate of the opposition party is volatile. I feel that if the candidate of the opposite party wins, with a presidency, congress and court system in control by a very conservative party, that there could be a lot social progress and institutions that could be undone. If my candidate wins, without a change in party of the congress, not much will change. If the parties in congress switch to the same party as my candidate, much progress can be made.
I am not that well versed in Russian/US relationship to offer an opinion about how the future will be. I am hopeful that someday it will be more friendly.
Lance, 41, Georgia
I am going to take part in the US presidential elections in 2016. I have decided whom to support – usual party I vote for.
Basically, social policies matter the most to me, and I am supporting the more socially progressive candidate. Racial issues remain a big topic in the US, and my candidate will do a better job moving is past the divide.
There is not a god damn thing in Trump’s agenda, actually. On the other hand, I do not quite agree with Clinton’s tax policy. I want to see the tax code completely rewritten and simplified.
The outcome is important. Let’s be honest. Trump is basically a fascist. He would inflame existing tensions, isolate the United States and slow free trade. And he’s just a dick.
No opitimist on US-Russian relations, really. I don’t see either side changing. I actually see it getting worse. Trump and Putin like each other. But that’s not worth having Trump as president.
Anton, 36, Virginia-Samara
Unfortunately, I am not going to take part in this election. Due to a complicated system of getting an absentee ballot I have missed the deadline. But I can speak about my choice. I have always voted for democratic candidate and this election wouldn’t have been different.
I would’ve casted my vote for H.R. Clinton. Compared to Trump she does have experience in international arena, she was an active first lady under her husband presidency which is unusual for most and has implemented some great educational initiatives. On the other hand, her international policies could backfire. While she has shown some finesse as the Secretary of State, I am concerned that her impulsiveness could be misinterpreted by others.
I can’t think of a single issue I would agree with Trump about.
In the unlikely case that Trump wins the local economy of some states that do heavily rely on immigrants (especially illegal) will suffer. It could result in agricultural production shortage in California and Florida. Forceful deportation of illegals is an extremely costly project and legalization is time consuming and costly for immigrants. Unless some immigration program that is both easy and cheap is implemented the status quo will remain.
It’s difficult to say considering that both countries are intent on showing the dominancy in the world. Likely outcome is two camp split and continuous straining in relations.
Jullette, 51, Virginia
I am going to take part in the US presidential elections in 2016. I am a registered independent and frankly I still don’t know who I will vote for. They both are undesirable for various reasons. As I have not decided it is hard to explain reasoning. I can tell you things cannot continue like they are in the “greater nation on earth”.
One candidate is a narcissistic, egomaniacal businessman and the other is a narcissistic career politician who thinks the rules don’t apply to her or her family.
They both have appealing stances on issues and equally unappealing stances. There is no drop dead issue for me, more the one of social and fiscal balance. Regardless of who is commander-in-chief we still have a House and a Senate that act like 5 year-olds playing in a sand box, so not sure it matters as much as we like to think.
So much I disagree with but mostly the character of the individuals. You can’t fix character and morality.
Yes the outcome is important as it has the potential to shape the future of our country. First woman president but more bloated government spending and favoritism with rewards for those who donate or a businessman with absolutely no experience in government. If he could put his ego aside and surround himself with subject matter experts (SMEs) he could potentially be successful but that is a very big IF
The future of US-Russian relations in general definitely depends on who is elected.
Paul, 43, Minnesota
It is a privilege to live in a country with democratic elections, and while it’s easy to think that my one vote doesn’t matter, it is important for all of us to do it. While there is certainly some level of corruption in any country, we truly believe that our process works and that our elections are legitimate. By participating we are helping to ensure this is always the case.
It has been very difficult to decide this year. I am disgusted with the two primary options we’ve been given by the two parties who control our political process. It’s like watching a ridiculous television show. Almost everyone I know is frustrated and embarrassed for what is going on. For the first time in my life I am planning to vote for a third party presidential candidate, the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. I don’t expect him to win or even come close, and to be honest I don’t agree with some of his political positions. I am voting for him out of protest.
I typically vote for candidates in one of our two main parties. I am not exclusively loyal to either party. However, this year I am voting for a candidate in a third party, which is unusual for me. I tend to be more liberal on political issues, but I also agree with some conservative positions as well. Mostly I am looking for good people who are trustworthy and who can get things done. I am tired of the establishment candidates who play the political games. Hillary Clinton is an establishment candidate. I don’t trust her at all, and I don’t think she can get anything done. She’s too beholden to the political system. This is why Donald Trump has done so well. He is anti-establishment. Unfortunately he is also an arrogant jackass and an embarrassment to the country.
There are many positions I support in both candidates. I support Hillary’s position on immigration, social issues like gay rights, education policies, etc. On the other side, Trump is absolutely right that America should have smarter trade deals, lower taxes on businesses, and stop spending trillions of dollars trying to police the entire world. He would run the country like a smart business, but he would also be an offensive and embarrassing leader. She would be a much more sensitive and diplomatic president, but she would also be weak and unable to make transformational changes. There is good and bad in each of them.
I disagree with Trump on foreign policy. I think America needs to lead the way in opening up and viewing ourselves as part of a global community. Trump will make the same mistakes that Britain recently made, in closing itself off to the rest of the world. I don’t think building a giant wall on our southern border is the right thing to do, for example. I disagree with Trump’s arrogant style. He doesn’t seem to have thoughtful plans for many key issues. He only has bombastic rhetoric on certain issues. I agree more with Hillary’s positions, but I don’t trust her and am tired of the Clintons in general. She and her husband have been involved in many unethical and illegal activities. She is all talk and no action. She is managing her political career.
The result of the election will certainly be important, although the lives of average Americans will not change much. Thankfully we have a strong system of democracy, with checks and balances in place. No single leader can control the country without the support of many, many others. The greater concern is the people who will surround the elected president. For example, the next president will appoint two or three Supreme Court judges, and this could significantly change the court, and public policy on many issues, for decades.
We are very concerned about the US-Russia relationship. Russians and Americans do not really understand each other, and both sides vilify the other. We are concerned that our travel to Russia, and our possibility for living there someday will be removed. We see that Russia is continuing to isolate itself and show needless aggression toward Western countries. We also see that America continues to misunderstand Russian interests and matches the aggression with needless rhetoric. The naiveté of average citizens enables the governments to continue escalating these disagreements. We very much hope that there are stronger relationships in the future. Americans see Putin’s government as corrupt, and we cannot understand how any country would allow its leaders to rule in this way. Americans also don’t understand why Russia is so slow to adopt progressive views and participate more in the global community. In general the two sides seem far apart, and we are a long way from truly understanding each other. I hope in my own lifetime to see this change, and perhaps to play a small part in it.
I am sure some of my friends might be leaning towards Trump, but they chose not to participate in the survey for any number of reasons. Some stressed that the current elections are a mess and are better be over soon.
However, we have seen so many times how messier it can become when people prefer not to take part in shaping their own future. So I hope that my US friends go to the polls and choose the right man or the right woman. The choice is theirs and I cannot influence it in any way. But no matter whom they grant with their vote and no matter where this man or this woman leads their country I do hope that we will stay friends with my friends and remain positive about the better future.
The Russian version of this article is available here.